That suggestion of nomination is at the heart of government accusations that former Oxford attorney Richard "Dickie" Scruggs sought to improperly influence DeLaughter for a favorable ruling in a lawsuit the judge presided over against Scruggs.
In 2009, Scruggs pleaded guilty to that allegation.
But today's unsealed document, in Scruggs' push to get that conviction thrown out, states that the charges he pleaded guilty to were "painstakingly negotiated" to avoid alleging bribery or its equivalent.
DeLaughter later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, not bribery.
"If the government had no bribery case against DeLaughter, then it follows as day the night that it had no bribery case" against Scruggs, the document states.
"If the quid is gone, so is the quo."
• • •
In 2009, Oxford attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs pleaded guilty to seeking to improperly influence Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter, who presided over a lawsuit against Scruggs and others.
Here are new morsels from an unsealed document filed by Scruggs as he seeks to have the conviction overturned:
• Plea details were “painstakingly” negotiated over many weeks with government counsel “to avoid alleging bribery” or its equivalent. Says he did not (and would not) plead guilty to bribery.
• Far from dangling a judgeship in front of DeLaughter, Scruggs’ brother-in-law, then U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, “deflated any aspirations DeLaughter may have entertained.” Lott testified that basically he told DeLaughter his name would not get serious consideration.
• Former Hinds D.A. Ed Peters, once DeLaughter’s boss, along with Scruggs and DeLaughter, all denied that Scruggs was a party to a quid pro quo exchange - his lawsuit for a judgeship. Peters was hired by then-attorney Joey Langston of Booneville “to get assurances that the playing field would be level,” not to get anything from DeLaughter.
• Jackson attorney John Corlew was believed to have been among lawyers who recommended DeLaughter to Lott for a federal judgeship.
• Scruggs says he first called Lott to ask about the process for judicial appointments and to mention DeLaughter’s interest. Both Lott and Sen. Thad Cochran’s agreement was necessary for the nomination, he says. Lott reportedly told DeLaughter that both senators were needed for a name to go to the President. But Lott told DeLaughter her wanted someone from the Gulf Coast, which meant Lott wasn’t going to support him.
• Peters, who was granted immunity to testify to the grand jury, said DeLaughter did not know he was getting paid $1 million to help Langston and Scruggs.
• When Langston told Scruggs that DeLaughter was interested in the federal bench, Langston said Scruggs told him he would support those interests “unequivocally,” not conditioned upon any favors. Scruggs also reportedly told Langston he had no real influence with Lott, much less President George W. Bush. Scruggs said that if he pushed Lott for DeLaughter, it would have had the reverse effect. Lott confirmed there never was any intention to provide a judgeship to DeLaughter.
• Representing Roberts Wilson in the lawsuit against Scruggs, he claims Jackson attorney William Kirksey had an “ex parte” communication with Judge DeLaughter about orders and motions entered. Scruggs says he is willing to conduct “limited discovery” to confirm this face if the court deems it necessary.
(For more, read Wednesday's Daily Journal. To read the full document, go to Patsy R. Brumfield's blog, From the Front Row, on NEMS360.com)